Thursday, November 29, 2012

DO YOU KNOW THE ORIGIN OF "WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS"?

 Looking back at things that occurred during Rosetta's early years
1911 - ROSETTA WAS TWO WHEN MORTON SALT BECAME AN INNOVATOR

So many things that we take for granted these days happened at the beginning of the 1900s when Rosetta was a young girl. We will be taking these trips down memory lane with her on this blog.

 Most of us know the expression, "When it rains, it pours," but did you ever wonder how it originated? Let's go back to the year 1911, the year Rosetta was only two years old.
Morton Salt Girl - 1914

In 1889 Joy Morton acquired the Onondaga Salt Company and renamed it Joy Morton & Company. In 1910 they changed the name to the Morton Salt Company.

In those days, when the weather was humid salt would cake and be hard to pour. However, by 1911 the newly named Morton Salt Company came up with a major advance—the addition of an additive that prevented caking, made their product free-flowing in any weather, and therefore highly competitive. 

They needed an advertising campaign to get this news out to the public and hired the advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Company. 

Their quest was to come up with a campaign that would put Morton Salt in every cupboard. It took twelve proposed ads and three substitute options, but they finally had it.

Morton Salt Girl Now
Joy Morton's son Sterling, decided upon an image of a young girl. Her umbrella was carefully held in one hand, but the blue package of salt was not so carefully held. Despite the rain, salt poured from the package in the soon-to-become iconic image. The picture told the story: Morton Salt was clump-free, regardless of the weather or storage conditions.

The slogan "When It Rains It Pours®", adapted from an old slogan "it never rains, but it pours," and the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl made its official debut on the blue package of table salt in 1914. Of course, a girl must keep up with the fashions and the image changed many times through the years, but the slogan is still used in general conversation today.

Rosetta's memoir, "CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO" makes a wonderful gift during the holiday season.


Monday, September 10, 2012

The family loved going to Rosetta's brother's Camp Ojibwa in Eagle River, Wisconsin

Camp Ojibwa  Meyer, his wife Bea, Al, Sam, Matilda, Jean and  Edna
One of the big delights for the family was an excursion to her brother Al's Camp Ojibwa in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

It is amazing how well-known it became and how many celebrities acknowledged it. Even the Alan Sherman song, "Camp Granada" was inspired by Al's camp. You see, Sherman was one of his counselors, but how do you rhyme with Ojibwa?

At one time baseball's famous Leo Durocher left a game to spend two days at the camp, but the Chicago Tribune found out and did a cartoon with him wearing a Camp Ojibwa tee-shirt.
Here is a post about it from www.funtrivia.com

14. An incident occurred in late July (Saturday, July 26) involving Leo Durocher. Do you remember what he did?

     Leo called Jack Brickhouse a mental midget on the "Tenth Inning" show
     Leo left a game and went up to Camp Ojibwa
     Leo punched home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt while arguing balls and strikes
     Leo won his 1000th career game as a manager


Rosetta's daughter Phyllice lived in Alaska many years, and lo and behold she mentioned Camp Ojibwa to a friend in Juneau and it turned out he was a former camper. As for me,  one of my ex-husband's business associates had an uncle who was an original investor in the camp. What a small world.

If the name Camp Ojibwa sounds familiar, please post a comment. Rosetta and her brother Al were very close and he watched out for his "little sister" her entire life. Here is an excerpt from Can We Come In and Laugh, Too? where Rosetta introduces her brother Al. This section in the book tells the story of how the camp came to be.


~Morgan St. James, Rosetta's daughter
EXCERPT:
Al was the most successful of my brothers. Still in his early teens, he was too young to enlist in World War I, but heard that a person could make lots of money by working in the shipyards and help the war effort at the same time. He traveled to Detroit by himself and got a job in the shipyards there. It was true. By the time he was ready to come back to Chicago, he had saved up a few thousand dollars which was a fortune in those days.

He returned home and told my parents to ask for anything they wanted. As it turned out, the only thing they wanted was a pair of tickets to the Jewish synagogue for the High Holy Days. With the money that was left, he bought a horse and cart and launched his first business—delivering ice for iceboxes. We didn’t have electric refrigerators back then. Big cakes of ice were placed in heavily insulated ice boxes to keep our food from spoiling.

My brother said that he learned at a very young age what he had a talent for—making money.
As I say in my main story, the business he loved the most was owning a boys’ camp. He opened Camp Ojibwa in Eagle River, Wisconsin in 1928 and it became famous worldwide. For the rest of his life wherever he went it seemed someone recognized Al. Even in Europe. 

The book is available in paperback and Kindle. Get your own copy for inspiration and laughs.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rosetta's oldest sister Jean was a cover girl in the early 1900s


This was not the cover with Jean's image,
 but hers would have appeared around this time
EXCERPT FROM
"CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO?"

Note: Jean was the oldest of ten children, and Rosetta, her baby sister was the youngest. Here is Rosetta's memory of her sister Jean, beautiful both inside and outside.

My sister Jean was the oldest and she was almost more like a mother to me than a sister because of our age difference. 

When she finished grammar school, she got a job in a department store as a cashier. Kids from poor families went to work very early in those days. Her earnings were so minimal, that after staying on that job for a while, Jean found a job with the Saturday Evening Post. It was a very popular magazine in Chicago, and her job was going from door-to-door to get subscriptions for the magazine.

She was a very beautiful girl with jet black hair and pretty soon people at the company noticed her good looks and approached her. They wanted to make her a cover girl. She accepted and was on a magazine cover, but didn’t stay with the company very long. Jean wanted to better herself, and was offered a job with Cameron Dental Lab, a dental laboratory that manufactured all kinds of dental equipment.

Jean was not only pretty, she had beautiful teeth. Well, while she was working in the dental industry, it didn’t take long for the people in charge to notice how pretty she was and even more important what a wonderful smile she had. Sure enough, they asked if she would model their instruments.

So once again she became a model in addition to her job of working on the assembly line. They got away with highway robbery, because neither of those companies ever paid her an extra dime for being their model, but it was fun for her to see her photo in print.

She worked for Cameron a long time, assembling instruments and lending them her smile. When she finally left, they begged her to stay and even kept calling her and asking her to come back.

Eventually she met a man named Sam Heftel and they got married. Family members were surprised at her choice because many handsome, successful men had courted my sister and she had turned all of them down.


Sam was into real estate, and although Jean assumed he was a fairly good salesman, he never seemed to be able to close a deal. They were married many years and lived in a small efficiency apartment with a pull down bed and what was called a Pullman kitchen. It was so small and so compact, it was built into an alcove. They never had any children, and to tell the truth, Sam always had to scrape out a living so her life wasn’t very exciting. Not only that, but he loved to smoke the smelliest cigars you can imagine, and that little apartment always smelled putrid no matter how much Lysol she used to clean it. She could have married so much better.


Thousands of people have enjoyed Rosetta's stories since the release of this book in May 2012.  Now you can, too.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Surprise 78th Birthday Trip

We flew to San Francisco for Lunch
Although she loved geography,  my mother hadn't traveled much until I began to take her on trips whenever I could in the 1980s. I wanted every birthday to be special for her.
~Daughter, Morgan St. James

On her 78th birthday I told her I was taking her to lunch, but we had to leave early.

She questioned why that was necessary, and I came up with some BS excuse because I had a very special lunch planned for her. Little did she know that we were flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco for lunch at Fisherman's Wharf. I knew she loved Chinatown, too, so after that I planned to go from the Wharf to Chinatown, do some shopping,  finish with and early sushi dinner at Yamato's Restaurant on California Street in Chinatown, then fly back to L.A. 

Yes, I know sushi and Yamato's are Japanese, but the restaurant actually was in Chinatown right across from a McDonald's restaurant I'd decorated. Because I made several trips to San Francisco related to decorating McDonald's restaurants back then, I'd become friends with the sushi chef. No matter how much time went by between visits, he always greeted me as "Decorator Lady from McDonald's" and made special dishes for me. I thought she would enjoy that.

As we headed for LAX, she asked where we were going, and when I pulled into the airport she said, "Honey, are we going to the Theme Restaurant?" That was a big Space Age looking restaurant at the entrance to LAX.

I shook my head and said, "Good guess, but no. I know you've only been to San Francisco a few times and loved it, so I thought it would be the perfect place to have lunch."

Her eyes widened. "Lunch? We're going to fly to San Francisco for lunch? I can't believe it."

"Believe it!"

In her circle of friends it would have been a rare occurrence for someone to fly to San Francisco just for lunch and I knew she'd really have something to talk about at the Senior Center. Tears filled her eyes and she told me how special I'd made her birthdays. Her 75th was a weekend spent in Las Vegas with VIP treatment from the general manager of the Flamingo Hotel, 76 was New Orleans where she was up on stage dancing with the club owner (see the chapter in "Can We Come In and Laugh, Too?" for that story).

We caught a cab to the Wharf and  walked around, watched the seals and walruses on their platform in the bay, peeked in shops and generally had a great time. Then it was time for our Crab Louis at Alioto's on the world renowned Fisherman's Wharf. I joked that the restaurant was almost as old as she was--not quite, but almost. Mom was born in 1909 and  Alioto's had opened in 1925. She was in "seventh heaven." With lunch finished, we walked to the cablecar stop and I helped her hop on a cablecar, Destination: Chinatown.

After an afternoon of walking around--she was a great walker, better at 78 than me at 48--we went to Yamato's where I hoped my friend the chef would offer his normal greeting. The minute we appeared in the entrance he called out, "Greetings pretty decorator lady from McDonalds. And, who this beautiful lady?" (referring to Rosetta). I introduced her as my mother and he raved about how much he liked making special dishes for me. Mom was beaming.

She'd never had sushi but was ready to try it and he prepared a feast. After that day she asked if we could have sushi on several occasions. It didn't matter how old Rosetta got, she was always game to try something new. Maybe that's where I get the spirit of always being willing to  try new things. However, if she didn't like something, she didn't forget, either. Once I recommended a restaurant and she said she'd eaten there twenty years before and wouldn't go back because the service was awful. 

After being catered to by my friend, the sushi chef, we took a cab to the airport, and that's when I got a big surprise. Our return tickets were gone! I dumped the contents of my purse on a counter, but there were no tickets and the flight we'd planned to take was sold out. I told them we had reservations, and the agent actually saw the bookings, but without the tickets we were out of luck. I had no idea what had happened, unless I'd somehow dropped them and perhaps two people were enjoying a free flight to L.A.

We had the agent check other airlines and found we could buy tickets for a flight that was leaving shortly on the old commuter airline Air Cal. Mom and I hustled to their terminal only to discover a long line waiting to check in or buy tickets. We begged people to let us through the line so we could buy tickets for the flight in time to board it. Mom smiled sweetly as I pleaded.

Maybe it was her snow white hair or her captivating smile, but whatever it was, everyone let us get in front of them until we reached the front of the line. We just made it onto the flight and when we landed in L.A. she gave me a hug and said, "I can always count on you for something unexpected for my birthday. I love you, honey." That was worth everything! 

CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO? is filled with humor and inspiration -- stories covering everything from growing up in as the youngest of ten children in a zany, early 1900s family to using laughter to get through some of the curves life threw her way. Thousands of copies have delighted people all over the globe. Why not get your own copy or give it as a gift. Available in Kindle and paperback. Amazon Select members borrow it FREE.







Friday, July 27, 2012

Family dinners were like a scene from a comedy

Throughout the time Rosetta lived in Chicago the family dinners were huge affairs. With most of her 9 siblings living in Chicago, plus their kids, imagine up to 40 people crowding into a relatively small apartment. Then add to that the fact that most of them were absolutely zany and you had the recipe for hilarity.


Rosetta, Edna and Jean were known as the "Three Graces." They worked together to serve all of these people like a finely oiled machine--each with their specific chore. From preparation through the dishes, they never allowed other family members to help. Even after Rosetta, Edna and Jean moved to California, the routine for family dinners, although smaller now--maybe around 20 people--persisted. This continued until the trio ranged in age from Rosetta (about 75 at the time) to Edna (around 79) and Jean approaching 90. The younger family members were always told to "sit and enjoy."


From the time the dinner guests arrived it was non-stop fun, with jokes and pranks bantered around like tennis balls. Each tried to top the other. One time they decided to stage a mock rendition of the old TV show "This is Your Life," with MC Ralph Edwards. Edna put on one of her husband's suits, a fedora and drew a mustache with eyebrow pencil. Rosetta made what was supposed to be the "book of life" for their mother, Mathilda. They sat Mathilda in an armchair and one-by-one Edna read the names of her brothers from the book.


In turn, they stood in front of Mathilda and related some funny incident from her life. Poor Mathilda was completely bewildered by this and sat there saying, "What's going on?" in Yiddish as she didn't speak much English. 


I was a kid at the time--maybe eleven years old--but I can remember that particular dinner as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was the epitome of the constant fun that prevailed in the Schwartz family and inspired all of the offspring to find the laughter in any situation.


Enjoy Rosetta's stories, both funny and inspirational in CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO? Thousands of copies have been downloaded so why not get your own copy?

E


Morgan St. James, Rosetta's daughter

Monday, July 23, 2012

ROSETTA LOVED SINGING THE FUNNY SONG "I'M AN INDIAN"

Rosetta at 93
Rosetta loved to sing and she had a very good voice. Combine that with her sterling sense of humor and imagine her performing in a show at the local Senior Center.


She was about 82 or 83 when her neighbor Jean Williams, a flamboyant woman of about the same age who ran gambling junkets to Las Vegas, invited her to do a number in one of the shows put on at the Center. Despite her age, Rosetta was always game for most things. She decided to do a funny number, but what could it be? 


Then she remembered one of her favorites--an old Fannie Brice number called, "I'm An Indian." It was a lesser known song that told the story of little Rosie Rosenstein, a Jewish woman who fell in love with an Indian chief and became a squaw. What could be better? Not only was it a funny song, but it lent itself to a great costume. My sister and I had loved to hear her sing it through the years, and now she was to perform it on stage accompanied by another senior playing the tune on the piano.


Rosetta dug out a blanket that sort of looked like an Indian pattern and made herself a headband with a feather, then practiced her dance moves. Even though she was in her eighties, Rosetta had some good moves left in her. Hours were spent rehearsing in front of a full-length mirror, singing: "Look at me, just look at me, I'm what you call an Indian, that's something that I never was before. One day I met an Indian chief named (she called him Itchka Mahogna) and right away he took me for his squaw. He wrapped me up in blankets, put feathers in my head. Between the blankets and the feathers, I feel just like a bed."


Click HERE and you can hear the original Fannie Brice rendition of the entire song.


Finally she was ready to do a test run for Jean and me. She nailed it, Jean gave it thumbs up and the audience loved it. Rosetta was in her glory. She smiled and said, "Now I know what it feels like to be a star."
                                             Morgan St. James, daughter


Enjoy Rosetta's stories in CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO? She takes you from being the youngest of ten children, born in 1909, through 1989 when she wrote her memoir. Even when life got rough, her laughter and spirit carried her through. The book has been call funny, inspirational and delightful. A book by an ordinary woman with the extraordinary gift of making people believe in themselves. REMEMBER, Amazon Prime members can borrow the Kindle edition free.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

WHEN ROSETTA WAS IN HER MID-80s, SHE REJECTED A SUITOR WHO WAS "TOO OLD"

He was too old for her!
Up until the mid 90s Rosetta was a familiar face in the Pico/Robertson area of Los Angeles. She never learned to drive and went everywhere by foot or bus. Occasionally, she would spring for a taxi. Until she was nearly 89, most mornings she  walked from her apartment at Sherbourne near Olympic to the shopping area on Pico--about a mile walk each way. It was good aerobic exercise, and probably contributed to her good health and youthful attitude.

As Rosetta took her daily walk, always with that great smile lighting her face, she frequently stopped to chat with some of the many friends she'd made along the way. By the time she was 86, it seemed as though one older gentleman waited  in the same spot every morning until she passed 


Finally one morning he struck up a conversation, then walked along with her. After several mornings he asked her out for dinner, but made the mistake of calling it a "date." Much to his dismay, she said she just wanted to be friends. Undaunted, he still waited for her every day. At last she agreed and they had their "date."

It was hard to hold back my chuckles after I asked, "Mom, you said he's a nice guy. I never hear you talk about him anymore."

"Well, honey, he's just too old for me. During dinner he me told he's ninety. Okay he still drives, goes to the gym every day and is a fine-looking fellow--tall and erect with a good head of silver hair, and he's really funny, but what do I want with an old man? She lowered her voice, "Besides, I think he's looking for a sex partner. So, it was a dilemma. You see, I'm too young for him, but I'm too old to be anyone's sex toy."

The poor old gent continued to hound her to no avail. That's all for today. Thanks for following this blog. ROSETTA'S DAUGHTER, MORGAN ST. JAMES
 Love Rosetta? Read her funny and touching memoir. CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Excerpt from CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO?


Via Photoshop Rosetta was the model for Flossie Silver
 and her own father (at about the same age) the model for Sterling Silver
 in the Silver Sisters Mysteries

Our household was strictly Orthodox Jewish, which included several traditions. I learned to read Hebrew at a very young age and my father would settle back in his favorite chair while I read the Hebrew newspaper to him. Now that I’m old, I can’t read a word of Hebrew. I can’t explain why that is, but as an adult I definitely didn’t get involved in religion much. Maybe that’s why I’ve forgotten Hebrew, but I can still speak Yiddish.  When I do go to temple, it is either Conservative or Reform and I usually only go on the Jewish High Holidays. After my sister Jean and my brothers got married, my sister Edna and I were the only ones still at home and we knew we wanted to be part of the modern world.

My father was a very kind, gentle person and had a great sense of humor. Mama loved to laugh, but not like my father. She was much quieter. He did all the grocery shopping because my mother never had a chance to get out of the kitchen. Cooking for at least twelve people every day was a full-time job. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

ROSETTA SHARED HER BIRTHDAY YEAR WITH BUCHART GARDENS IN VICTORIA, CANADA

Buchart Gardens - Sunken Garden
Rosetta loved to travel, and in 1989 my sister Phyllice and I decided to meet in Vancouver, Canada. Phyllice traveled there from Juneau, Alaska with her young son so Mom could see her grandson and Rosetta and I flew to Vancouver from Los Angeles. 


We decided to take the hydrofoil to Victoria and stay for a few days. Going to Victoria is like being in a "mini-England" complete with a Parliament building and many British traditions including the famous high-tea at the Empress Hotel. 


The highlight of the trip was a visit to Buchart Gardens--the second most beautiful public gardens I've ever seen. The first for me will always remain Keukenhof in Holland.


We had a rental car and as we stopped at the kiosk and paid for our admissions, Phyllice spotted a sign that said, "Tell us if you were born in 1909."


Rosetta immediately said to the ticket taker, "I was born in 1909"


It was as though all of the bells and whistles in Victoria went off. The ticket taker said, "This is the 80th anniversary of Buchart Gardens. It was founded in 1909 and we are celebrating with anyone born in that year." The first thing she did was to refund our admission fees, saying, "You are our honored guests."


Then she said, "You will be treated to high tea in the teahouse and we would like to take your photo for our gallery."


The day was magical. They met us at the teahouse and Mom was treated like a celebrity. The servers catered to us and she sat there beaming. The photographer came and snapped several images and told us the best one would be hung in their gallery. 


As we finished our walk through the acres and acres of amazing gardens, Rosetta said, "It sure felt good to be Queen for a Day. Thanks so much for bringing me here."


That was a wonderful memory and she held it close for many years. It was also the day my sister and I knew she was slowing down a bit. Rosetta normally walked miles without getting tired. Near the end of the day we had almost walked the entire gardens, stopping to OOH and AAH at the beautiful displays. There was one more left. Rosetta said, "Honey, I think I'll sit on this bench while you girls look at that one." As much as we didn't want to, we had to acknowledge that when you're 80 you probably do slow down a little.


Read Rosetta's humorous and inspiring memoir, CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO? It has been enjoyed by thousands since it's release in May 2012.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So cool I had to share it!

Rosetta at 88 years old
I have now received several emails saying they look at Rosetta's smiling face on the cover of Can We Come In and Laugh, Too? so that they can imagine her whispering her legendary message of confidence to them, "You can do it, honey!"


Everyone needs someone in their corner--someone who will encourage them to believe in themselves. This was a unique talent she had, and now she is reaching out with her message from the pages of her book and smiles at them from the cover. She's been gone since 2006 when she was nearing her 97th birthday, but she never stopped cheering people on. The cover photo was shot when she was 95, by then confined to a wheelchair because of a broken hip, but her smile and encouragement to others never faltered.


What a "feel good" project this has been!  Available in paperback and Kindle.


Thank you, everyone! MORGAN ST. JAMES


Saturday, July 7, 2012

GOING TO FLORIDA IN A 1949 PONTIAC


Miami, Florida
We piled into Dad's 1949 Pontiac
In 1949, seeking a warmer climate, Rosetta and Al moved from Chicago to Miami, Florida. It was a disaster from Day One! But, being the supportive person she was, Rosetta stayed cheerful through the entire ten month ordeal--at least on the surface. We kids never saw the stress she was under. 

We got as far as Evansville, Indiana when Dad's car broke down and we were stuck in a hotel for two nights while it was being fixed. Was that an omen of what was to come? Who knows.
Morgan St. James


It took almost a week for us to drive to Florida, and when Al pulled up in front of the address his sister Helen gave us, I thought he made a mistake. The building looked so small I couldn’t imagine how it could hold three apartments.

We quickly discovered what his sister hadn’t told us—her “apartments” were only efficiency units. In just one room the living space was combined with a kitchen space, if you can call it that. A sink with a drain board took up one wall. Under the drain board was a small refrigerator and a few cabinets overhead. We had a tiny bathroom, and as far as sleeping arrangements, closet doors on another wall in this room hid a bed on hinges known as a Murphy bed. It was built into the wall and at night you opened the doors and pulled down the bed. Once the bed was down, you barely had any space between the couch and the bed.

These efficiency units were furnished with a few sticks of furniture, and it just took one glance for us to realize they were only meant to accommodate a single person or a perhaps couple in a pinch, but certainly not four people.  Al and I were pretty upset that Helen hadn’t explained what kind of apartments she had, but we couldn’t say anything to her. She meant well. With no children of her own, she probably didn’t have a clue what it would be like to live in that one room with two kids.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Can We Come In and Laugh, Too? - Rosetta had spunk!

Rosetta still youthful at 51 - 1960
Rosetta was a small woman, but mighty. She was all of 5'-1" and weighed about 95 pounds. She wasn't a gushy woman or overly huggy-kissy, but when she was in your corner, you knew you had her support and love 100% .


A peck on the cheek from Rosetta was more endearing than anything I can imagine, because along with that peck came the transfer of confidence in your abilities and the knowledge that she would support whatever you tried. Then there was the other side. No one, and I mean no one, was exempt when it came to standing up for her own rights.


I was with her when she told off a young person twice her size and probably a third of her age after they tried to butt in line in front of her. It was something like, "Don't think you can get away with that just because I'm an old woman. Get back where you belong."


She passed away in July 0f 2006 only months away from her 97th birthday. Even when mini-strokes had stolen her short term memory, if you told her you were going to attempt something, the magic words were there: "I know you can do it, honey."

Her laughter and inspiration live on in

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I got blamed for my brother Phil's troublemaking



Rosetta talks about her brother Phil
Rosetta as she neared 90 with her magnetic smile still shining
Rosetta was the youngest of ten children and Phil, two years older, was next in line.
Phil was the next youngest to me. We were always pals, but he loved to get into trouble.  I had skipped a grade, so we were only one year apart in school. When I had a teacher the year after he did, they automatically thought I would be a troublemaker just like him, and I really had to try hard to show them I wasn’t like my brother.

Phil could talk his way out of most things, and like all of my brothers, had a magnetic personality. When he finally straightened out because I gave him a tongue lashing, he actually gave the main speech at our graduation. That was a magical day for him and when he was done with his talk, the whole audience stood up clapping. I always wondered if that ever would have happened if I hadn’t given him a lecture.

Friday, June 29, 2012

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM ROSETTA




When I was 14, my mother talked her office manager at Oregon Mutual Insurance Company into hiring me as a file clerk for a month in the summer when the regular clerk went on vacation. The job was simple enough: file the case folders and index cards back in their alphabetical drawers after they were used. There were lots of cards, lots of folders and lots of drawers. It was very boring, the room was hot and stuffy and I frequently sat on the little stool, pulled out a lower drawer and laid my head down for a nap.

Rosetta would pass by the file room on her way to the restroom and discover me nodding off.  She would duck in, shake me awake and say, “Wake up Phyllice, you’re sleeping again. I told them you were a good worker. If the boss catches you, you’ll lose your job and I’ll lose mine, too.” 

I’m sure that during that month, Rosetta must have made a hundred trips to the Ladies’ Room just to check on me.
                          f

Rosetta had a gift that is often referred to as “a keen sense of the obvious”. You could come to her with any problem—personal or academic—lay out the facts and she would cut through all the B.S. to give you the one best answer. That’s why everyone came to her for advice. She wasn’t judgmental, she didn’t over analyze, she just saw the unvarnished truth. 


PHYLLICE BRADNER, DAUGHTER





Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Rosetta's brother Sam never became a photographer



Life in a zany family in the early 1900s
Rosetta as a young woman

Twelve people were trying to exist in our apartment and we only had one bathroom. So, what do you think? To make matters worse my brother Sam was studying photography, and after taking a picture he went into the bathroom to develop it. He drew the shade and got all ready but invariably someone would have to use the bathroom. Poor Sam.  He never did get to develop any pictures and finally gave up photography.  

Rosetta's funny memoir is available in paperback and Kindle. Get your daily dose of laughter from the book she wrote when she was 80. Rosetta nearly reached her 97th birthday when she passed away in 2006.
 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Believe in yourself

Rosetta's words of wisdom


"There's one thing you must always believe in, honey...yourself."   ~Rosetta Schwartz




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ROSETTA'S SISTER JEAN - Excerpt from CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO?


Jean & Husband Sam-Around 1910

Rosetta devoted space to each of her 9 brothers and sisters in the book. Jean, the oldest, was about 17 when Rosetta was born. She lived to 93 and was like a second mother to Rosetta.

Jean

My sister Jean was the oldest and she was almost more like a mother to me than a sister because of our age difference. When she finished grammar school, she got a job in a department store as a cashier. Kids from poor families went to work very early in those days. 

Her earnings were so minimal, that after staying on that job for a while, Jean found a job with the Saturday Evening Post.  It was a very popular magazine in Chicago, and her job was going from door-to-door to get subscriptions for the magazine.

She was a very beautiful girl with jet black hair and pretty soon people at the company noticed her good looks and approached her. They wanted to make her a cover girl. She accepted and was on a Saturday Evening Post magazine cover, but didn’t stay with the company very long. Jean wanted to better herself, and was offered a job with Cameron Dental Lab, a dental laboratory that manufactured all kinds of dental equipment.

Jean was not only pretty, she had beautiful teeth. Well, while she was working in the dental industry, it didn’t take long for the people in charge to notice how pretty she was and even more important what a wonderful smile she had. Sure enough, they asked if she would model their instruments.

So once again she became a model in addition to her job of working on the assembly line. They got away with highway robbery, because neither of those companies ever paid her an extra dime for being their model, but it was fun for her to see her photo in print.

 She worked for Cameron a long time, assembling instruments and lending them her smile. When she finally left, they begged her to stay and even kept calling her and asking her to come back.

Eventually she met a man named Sam Heftel and they got married. Family members were surprised at her choice because many handsome, successful men had courted my sister and she had turned all of them down.

Sam was into real estate, and although Jean assumed he was a fairly good salesman, he never seemed to be able to close a deal. They were married many years and lived in a small efficiency apartment with a pull down bed and what was called a Pullman kitchen.  It was so small and so compact, it was built into an alcove. They never had any children, and to tell the truth, Sam always had to scrape out a living so her life wasn’t very exciting. Not only that, but he loved to smoke the smelliest cigars you can imagine, and  that little apartment always smelled putrid no matter how much Lysol she used to clean it. She could have married so much better.


Read her stories in the popular memoir CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO? Over 6,000 copies downloaded since May. Also available in paperback as a wonderful gift of laughter for someone you love.


 NOTE: When Jean was in her early thirties she had major surgery. The anesthetic caused her jet black hair to turn snow white overnight. She kept it long and rolled it into "sausage curls" which was a style of the times. To me it looked like strands of spun silver, and as a very young child one of my big treats was being able to brush Aunt Jean's beautiful hair.  ~MORGAN ST. JAMES

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FLYING TO FLORIDA IN THE 1940s

Rosetta's mother and sister Jean in the 1940s in Florida
Every year Rosetta's brother Al made it a point to send his mother Mathilda and his sister Jean to Florida during the harsh Chicago winters. Jean was eighteen when Rosetta was born, and as the oldest of ten children she had been a little mom to several of her siblings. Jean's help made it easier for her mother to care for so many kids, and Al always treated her as a second mother.

Traveling by air in the 1940s  was far from the norm, but Al knew the trip by train had become very taxing for his mother. Although it was extremely expensive in those days, he convinced her that it was the only way to go. He drove them to the airport and as they sat in the passenger area waiting to board the plane, Mathilda was mentally prepared for the adventure of actually flying through the air.

Mathilda, a very little woman, was small but mighty. To give you an idea, Jean was only five feet tall, and you can see how much shorter her mother was.

However, there was a young couple also waiting to board the propeller plane that day, and the young woman was absolutely terrified.

As Rosetta related the story, even though Mathilda spoke very little English, she approached the young woman and with Jean's help got her message across. Essentially it was:


"I'm an old woman and I'm not afraid of this newfangled contraption. You are a young beautiful woman and should be fearless, but if it will help, please hold my hand. I will give you some of my courage."


In later years, the roles switched and Jean became the one taking care my Grandmother. Both of them lived into their 90s while Rosetta's father died in the 1930s. It is no mystery where Rosetta got that indomitable spirit. Although her mother was generally a very quiet woman, there was an underlying strength and she passed it along to her ten children. When Rosetta was still alive, she said their father, my Grandfather, had a fantastic sense of humor and that was why the family was always laughing, regardless of the situation, and the neighbors asked if they could join the laughter. Rosetta got the best of both. Her mother's gentle strength and her father's humor.

Read her stories in "Can We Come In and Laugh, Too?" Over 6,000 copies downloaded since May. Also available in paperback.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A FAMILY PARTY PACKED THE PEOPLE IN


THANK YOU TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BOUGHT "CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO?"



In this photo Rosetta is sitting in the front row. Her mischief-maker brother Phil is right behind her, wearing the paper crown.


Back in 1920, there was a really large family in Chicago. It is amazing how they managed to fit all of those people into the apartment. Of Rosetta's seven brothers and two sisters, all but Jean (who is standing by the piano) were absolutely zany. Jean was reserved. Maybe that was because she was the oldest and had helped raise so many of them.

A family party was no small affair. The laughter resounded through the building, and the neighbors always hoped they'd be asked to join in.


Rosetta was eleven when this Halloween party photo was taken. To the right you can see the huge mirror where her brother Meyer  experimented with stage makeup day after day while he practiced different characters. His big desire was to be a stage actor. Her brother Charlie would probably be playing the drums in another part of the apartment, and Rosetta said she never knew what kind of character makeup Meyer would be wearing when she got home from school. 


Meyer didn't make it as an actor, but according to her brother Al, Meyer did wind up playing the coronet with one of John Phillips Sousa's bands for a year before going into sales. Many of the brothers played an instrument and  Rosetta shared the banjo with her sister Edna when they got older.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THE PAJAMA PARTY

They certainly weren't your typical "bevy of beauties."

A group of women who worked at Swartzchild & Company, a jewelry supply company in downtown Chicago, decided to get together and have a pajama party. Rosetta is the one  dead center in the third row. This photo was probably taken around 1927 when she was eighteen years old.


Rosetta's comment: "We all held our breath while the photographer got everything ready and prayed the bed wouldn't break!"


If some of the ladies look a little stoned, it's because without Photoshop or digital cameras back in those times, if the photo came out with some eyes closed, the photographer simply painted the eyes onto the eyelids.


Years later, this photo hung on her daughter Phyllice's wall, and Phyllice looks quite a bit like Rosetta. One of her friends squinted at the image and said, "Phyllice, when were you working in a cat house?"


Rosetta lived for laughter and shared it in her memoir. Since recently being published, thousands of Kindle copies of  Rosetta's heartwarming, funny book, CAN WE COME IN AND LAUGH, TOO?  have been downloaded . It is also available in paperback and makes a wonderful gift.


She passed on in 2006 nearing her 97th birthday, but her humor lives on.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

RESPONSE TO KINDLE PROMOTION OVERWHELMING

Rosetta is on TOP-Again!
Rosetta Schwartz 1909-2006

That's her at the top of the heap back in in the 1920s during a day at the beach. Her sister Edna is the one on the left.


The response to the free Kindle edition of Rosetta's memoir on June 6-7 was overwhelming. In two days nearly 5,300 copies were downloaded followed by many more people buying copies from Amazon for only $2.99.


Rosetta almost made her 97th birthday, but If she had lived long enough to see this response and realized how many people will now read her stories and tell their friends and relatives about her book, she would have been ecstatic. After all, when she was approached and asked to write about her life, her answer was, "But I'm  not a writer, Honey."


Oh yes she was. The book came about because I turned one of her favorite phrases around and used it on her: "You can do it." And, she not only wrote Part I of the book, she did it with a flair for comedy in a tightly written memoir.    
                        Morgan St. James

From Part II: 

I remember when Aunt Rosetta walked into a room it was painted with sunshine.  Soon that room overflowed with laughter. Laughter is contagious and let me tell you Aunt Rosetta was the primary carrier.  Even though she is no longer with us, I know that she is spreading sunshine and laughter somewhere.  
Nephew Sandy Schwartz, her brother Charlie's son